Self-Selection and Economic Assimilation of Immigrants: The Case of Iranian Immigrants Arriving to Three Countries During 1979–1985



The study is designed to evaluate the impact of the interaction between patterns of immigrants' self-selection and the context of reception at destinations on economic assimilation of Iranian immigrants who came to three countries during 1979–1985. For that purpose, we studied immigrants at the age of 22 or higher upon arrival by utilizing the 5 percent 1990 and 2000 Public Use Microdata files (PUMS) of the United States census, the 20 percent demographic samples of the 1983 and 1995 Israeli censuses of population, and the 1990 and 2000 Swedish registers. The results indicate that the “most qualified” immigrants – both on observed and unobserved variables – who left Iran right after the Islamic revolution, arrived in the US Their positive self-selection led them to reach complete earnings assimilation with natives there. Iranian immigrants who arrived in Israel and Sweden did not achieve full earnings assimilation with natives. Of these two groups, a smaller immigrant-to-native gap in average earnings was found in Sweden, but in the same time Iranian immigrants in Israel were more positively self-selected and showed better assimilation than their counterparts in Sweden. Market structure played a certain role in immigrants' earnings assimilation mainly in Sweden.